The use of a riot control gas mask has evolved from strategic deployment among special tactical units, to standard equipment for front-line officers when managing crowd control and riot control situations. In today’s sudden violent protest culture, it’s difficult to imagine a time when rank-and-file officers were not fully equipped with riot gear and gas masks.
How Does A Gas Mask System Function?
In terms of civil unrest situations, a riot control gas mask will provide protection from airborne agents. It’s not uncommon for aggressive protestors to throw bottles filled with chemicals, target civilians and officers with pepper sprays, or hurl tear gas canisters at crowd control units. Anytime an officer wades into a violent street gathering, their health and safety are at risk.
Fundamentally, riot control gas masks are the tactical equivalent of the common respirator. The gas mask will purify breathable air by filtering out hazardous chemical and biological agents that could incapacitate peace officers. A deftly designed gas mask works as a self-contained breathing apparatus that is virtually impenetrable to dangers present in most crowd control scenarios. The wearer of the gas mask usually has full use of their eyes, nose, and mouth, and can react to emerging risks unimpeded by airborne agents.
How Effective Are Gas Masks?
The effectiveness of a riot control gas mask is determined by how secure it tailors to the contours of a user’s face and the strength of the filter. Having a product that seamlessly fits into rapid response tactical gear can mean the difference between optimal safety and chemical agent penetrations. And just as not all riot suits and accessories are created equal, neither are the disposable filters.
A quality gas mask filter should last upwards of 24 hours. That’s essential for exposed officers because a declining gas mask filter can make it difficult to breathe in a critical situation. The greater the time flexibility in changing a filter, the less likely it will need to happen under strenuous circumstances. Changing filters on a gas mask is a task best conducted after order is restored, and officers are out of harm’s way. Quality air filters matter. Although the function of gas masks seems to protect only the wearer at first blush, this vital piece of safety equipment has been responsible for saving bystanders and protestors alike.
How Do Gas Masks offer protection and Save Lives?
In order to understand how such protective wear aids both front-lines officers and civilians, it’s important to consider some of the most chaotic situations.
Today’s patrol officers often wear partial riot protection and carry accessories such as gas masks in their vehicles. When they arrive at the scene of a raucous or violent gathering, tactical units may need to utilize CS gas or OC spray to disperse agitators. These each have their own function in dispersing a crowd control situation. CS (chlorobenzalmalononitrile) gas causes discomfort, choking, and can make it difficult to breathe for anyone in close proximity. OC (oleoresin capsicum) is a natural pepper spray and is usually reserved for violent and harmful crowd control situations.
Law enforcement prefers not to rely on airborne agents whenever possible because of their sometimes harsh impact on people with breathing impediments such as asthma and COPD. This equally applies to those engaged in the unrest as well as passing nearby. Officers are tasked with protecting and serving everyone, even those who allow emotions to get the better of them.
Protecting Those Protecting Us
Without this protective riot gear wear, an officer would be similarly impacted and rendered physically unable to save someone’s life. At the end of the day, protective gear, gas mask and accessories, such as a riot control gas mask, are vital life-saving tools for law enforcement and civilians alike. That’s why Haven Gear supplies state-of-the-art protective equipment that can be used in conjunction with gas masks to be effectively used to save the lives of all our valued community members.